By Jack Phillips
Russia’s Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed an instruction to close the Far Eastern Region’s border to prevent the spread of coronavirus, which has prompted lockdowns and quarantines in several Chinese cities.
“A corresponding instruction was signed today. Work on it is already in progress. We will inform all those concerned properly about the measures to close the border in the Far Eastern region and other steps the government has taken [to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Russia],” Mishustin said during a cabinet meeting on Thursday, according to the state-run TASS news agency.
The Far Eastern Region is the largest region in Russia, sharing borders with China, Mongolia, and North Korea. The region includes the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Zabaykalsky Krai district, Primorsky Krai district, and the Khabarovsk Krai district. The land border stretches about 2,500 miles.
There have been no confirmed cases in Russia.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry also said it had suspended issuing electronic visas for Chinese nationals, Reuters reported. They were able to use permits to enter the country in several areas. On Wednesday, Russia added that it would limit its railway links with China starting from Jan. 31. The only direct trains are now from Moscow to Beijing.
The virus, which originated in Wuhan in late December, has prompted travel warnings for Hubei Province and in some cases, all of mainland China. Chinese authorities placed Wuhan and other parts of Hubei under lockdown to enforce a quarantine.
Cases of the virus outside of mainland China have been confirmed by U.S. health authorities in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Australia, Cambodia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, the United States, and Vietnam. In the United States, five cases have been confirmed so far, including two in California, one in Washington state, one in Illinois, and one in Arizona, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
India’s government, meanwhile, announced Thursday that at least one case of coronavirus has been confirmed. The patient is a student at Wuhan University in China and was isolated in a hospital in Kerala, said the health ministry. “The patient is stable and is being closely monitored,” the agency wrote.
This week, a number of major airlines announced they would suspend some or all flights to China, saying that travel demand to the country has plummeted. United Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Airlines, and Lufthansa are among the companies slashing China service.
World Health Organization officials are slated to meet Thursday in Geneva to consider declaring coronavirus an international health emergency.
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